The SNV rural sanitation project, Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All Results Programme (SSH4A RP), officially drew to a close in March 2020, with 932,392 people gaining access to sanitation and 174,030 now with access to a handwashing facility with soap. Open defecation fell across all nine target districts from 17.9% to 2.6%. The presence of handwashing stations increased across all districts by an average of 34% suggesting a heightened appreciation for the need to wash hands after visiting the latrine.
Highlighting one of the aspects that has made the SSH4A approach unique and successful, Martha Naigaga, Sanitation and Hygiene Coordinator at the Ministry of Water and Environment of the Government of Uganda, drew attention to the project's key sustainability investment during its closing ceremony at the SNV office in Kampala. She said,
‘A sanitation plan is a key resource document in the district. I am very happy that SNV invested in supporting the districts to develop their district sanitation plans. Now districts have guidance when budgeting and implementing WASH activities within their communities.’
The SSH4A project was anchored on the following key principles:
Demand creation. Tailor-made sanitation demand triggering sessions were organised across all villages in the project intervention areas. The project team, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, engaged in a sanitation-focused training of trainers. In turn, trained facilitators cascaded skills and know-how to sub-county and parish-based staff to carry out sanitation triggering sessions in their respective areas. Phased implementation helped the project teams to gain experience and avoid costly mistakes. As a result of SNV’s sanitation demand triggering activities, village health teams, local leaders and local authorities at various levels became more invested in the process and were motivated to engage in sanitation follow-up activities. Open defecation free status of villages were verified regularly by parish-based teams. And for villages still with open defecation incidences, intense sanitation demand triggering continued.
WASH governance. The success and long-lasting impacts of sanitation and hygiene interventions can only be realised when governments – as duty bearers of the human right to water and sanitation – are in the lead. The team strengthened capacity of district governments to spearhead sanitation and hygiene initiatives themselves, such as to generate demand for quality sanitation services within their communities. One of the project’s key initiatives was to co-develop district sanitation plans. With these sanitation plans in place, district governments are now better equipped to plan, implement, monitor and sustain sanitation and hygiene interventions, beyond the project life of SSH4A RP.
Sanitation roles and responsibilities were clarified to achieve cohesion. Village leaders monitored household progress, while district teams supervised sub-county progress. Since SSH4A RP began implementation in Uganda, district stakeholders gathered annually to discuss progress, review work plans and agree on next steps. It is from these annual reviews that areas of priority were identified for the following implementation period.
Strengthening sanitation supply chains and finance. Cognisant of the challenges that communities face in getting appropriate, affordable latrine products, the project supported small businesses to diversify their sanitation products to meet the needs and demands of various customer segments. Working mostly with youth groups in the communities, young people received hands-on training to undertake sanitation home improvements themselves and to serve as WASH advocates. To ensure sustainability, the youth groups were encouraged to use low-cost materials. Clay soil was used for latrine floors and squat holes were plastered with cement/sand so that they could easily be cleaned/washed. Fitted squat hole covers to control flies and odours from the latrine were made from locally available wood. Handwashing facilities (e.g., tippy taps) were constructed and installed next to the latrine to promote handwashing with soap. However, the presence of soap remains a challenge, having only increased from 0.3% (year) to 2.6% (year) during project implementation.
Behavioural Change Communication (BCC). BCC-hygiene promotion activities were tailored to local contexts and desirable hygiene behaviours. MANDONA, an action-oriented, collective approach was used for post-triggering follow-up visits to support households take up simple and immediate actions to change the condition of their latrines and to construct handwashing facilities.
Beyond the comprehensive approach applied by SSH4A RP, the project’s success was spurred by partnerships. Collaboration across the nine districts, SNV staff and partners, and most importantly, the households that invested and improved their sanitation and hygiene are the reason behind the successful implementation of the project.
 For more information, read the end-of-the-project endline brief (summary report).